Back to the roots
The wall of Khun Lamís (assistant in the department for adoptions) office is a loving testament to the many hundreds of children who have left Pattaya Orphanage to begin a new life with parents who love them and have eagerly waited for the day they could bring them back to their homes. For some parents the Orphanage remains an important part of their lives and that of their children. They ensure their children are aware of both the heritage and culture of the wonderful country who shared such a precious gift with them, ensuring that contact continues with the orphanage and that the children have an opportunity to visit at some stage in their lives Thanks to their parents, many of the adopted children are able to visit the place they once considered their home and they welcomed back with all the love and joy possible, because it does not matter where you end up in the world, if you came from Pattaya Orphanage you are forever a beloved son or daughter of Thailand.

During the last months the PO was happy to welcome a couple of adoptive parents and former orphans. The example of Lek can show what such a visit means: In December of 2011 he and his parents went back to the Pattaya Orphanage, in fact it was already his third visit. He is now 24 comfortable enough with visiting his former home. When he came back for the first time he was 9 years old (he was adopted when he was 2 years old) and at that time, he says now, he felt very anxious going down the driveway to the Orphanage and worried that his parents might leave him there.

Lek is probably not alone in the conflicting feelings that many of the adopted children feel. The children may experience some quite strong emotions on returning to their birth country. This possibility can be easily overlooked when parents are eager to bring their child back to the land they clearly love and respect themselves; as they may not be aware their son or daughter may be feeling trepidation about returning, or once there may feel a little disoriented and not quite the Ďright fití.

Back to the example of Lek: Australia, where he now lives, is a multicultural society, however being a dark skinned boy with a blond mother means people were always looking at the family as he grew up (an experience all adoptees will be very familiar with). He didnít notice this too much and grew up being very Australian, in how he spoke, dressed and behaved. Going back to Thailand he found being addressed in Thai, being asked why he didnít speak Thai and that vague feeling of looking like everyone else but feeling and thinking so differently to his fellow Thais to be disconcerting, because he (and probably many of the other adoptive children) have identified so comprehensively with their adopted countries customs and culture. They may also feel a little guilty that they do not have much in common with Thai people, or they may feel guilt or discomfort if they love being back in Thailand, worried that they canít show let their adoptive parents see they feel drawn to their home country for fear as they worry this may hurt their parentsí feeling or might be being considered ungrateful. Being confronted with so many children still living in the orphanage while they live a privileged life (and letís face it most adopted children do end up in a reasonably comfortable middleclass lifestyle), may also make them uncomfortable if they are old enough to think about how differently their lives could have been. For some children brought up in the West, there is also the aspect of feeling ashamed of their roots (more so the teenagers), who may not want to think about the fact they were abandoned and began life in an orphanage Ė no matter how loving and wonderful that environment was.

The children of Pattaya Orphanage are spread far and wide in this world. As mentioned above not only Lek and his family have returned in the last couple of months but also some other wonderful parents with their children:

The Tolmer Family from Australia visited with Noi on the 14th of November 2011.

Anna (former name: Matam) who is now 9 years old and her mother returned on the 14th of February coming from Denmark.

Sukanya (5) and her German parents visited the orphanage for the first time on the 16th of February.

On the 19th of February Jonas (Witchabun, 15) and Mia (Sadudee, 13) came back from Denmark to the Orphanage together with their family.

Micki (Sittikorn, 12) came back with his mother from Denmark on the 23rd of February.

And last but not least Mei (Moo, 29) and her mother from Belgium visited the Orphanage on the 25th of February.

This article is a modified version of a text by Dr. Angela Lewis (mother of Lek). Lek with his mother Dr. Angela Lewis, Khun Toy and Father Michael: